A posterior capsulotomy or posterior capsular release is a surgical procedure to release scar tissue within the folds of the capsule at the back of the knee.
Page updated July 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)
Side view of the knee showing the areas where scar tissue can lock up knee movement. On the left of the image you can see the gutters at the back of the knee can be affected, and this is the area where a posterior capsulotomy is performed.
The surgical procedure of posterior capsulotomy can be technically challenging.
"The inability to fully extend the knee joint as a result of a traumatic event or prior surgery may be tolerable to sedentary and minimally active patients. However, this becomes a limiting issue for those involved in sports and leading active lifestyles in a very short period of time....a posterior capsulotomy may be performed to resolve the deficit in knee extension. Because of the potential risks associated with this procedure including progression to genu recurvatum, this procedure is not performed on a widespread basis."
Citation: Gomes JLE, Leie MA, de Freitas Soares A, Ferrari MB, Sánchez G. Posterior Capsulotomy of the Knee: Treatment of Minimal Knee Extension Deficit. Arthrosc Tech. 2017 Oct 12;6(5):e1535-e1539. doi: 10.1016/j.eats.2017.06.033. PMID: 29354470; PMCID: PMC5709971.